Running shoes are the most subjective item to review, since everything from shoe type to foot size to personal preference become factors in judging the shoe. Having said that, I feel pretty comfortable saying the Brooks Pureflow 5 are probably the best running shoe I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing in the last several years. Read on to learn why!
I’ve reviewed shoes from a lot of companies in the last few years; several types of Merrells, Lems Primal 2s, Vibram KSO EVOs, and Brooks Glycerin 13s, to name a few. For a long time I’ve rotated between Merrell Road Gloves/Vibrams for cross training/strength training, and the Brooks Glycerins for running. The Pureflows are light and simple enough to replace both the Road Gloves and Vibrams for my general workouts, and solid enough as running shoes to replace the Glycerins as well! I will admit, I do have a strong bias because the Pureflow 5 is the closest I’ve seen to my all-time favorite running shoe, the Brooks Green Silence. If anything, the Pureflows improve upon what I already liked about the Green Silence, plus they are far more attractive looking!
The Pureflow 5 falls into the “somewhat minimalist” category, in that it has a very low heel to toe drop of 4mm, and it’s basically just a sole and an upper, no fancy plastic shanks or posts involved. Heel to toe drop is the difference between how high the heel of the shoe is versus the forefoot: an “average” running shoe usually sits at around 10-15mm, so 4mm is markedly smaller. The upper is seamless, and I was able to work out in them barefoot without irritating my skin or causing any hotspots. I did need to make sure the tongue was adjusted correctly, as the edges were slightly sharp, so if it sat wrong it dug into my foot. However, this just required a simple adjustment to avoid.
Brooks says the pattern around the upper is part of their “3D print” that helps offer lightweight structure and support, and it certainly feels as though it works. The sole is made from Brooks’ “DNA Midsole” which they say makes for a more comfortable ride, and while I can’t say I could tell it from any other type of sole in a blind test, it is quite comfortable. There’s also some harder rubber on the bottom of the shoe, so hopefully it means the soles will last through some wear and tear. Brooks says to expect the shoe to last around 250-300 miles, which is decent longevity for a shoe that isn’t made with a lot of hard rubber in the sole. This isn’t as “feel close to the ground” as a Merrell Road Glove or the Vibrams, but it’s quite flexible and responsive.
Most importantly, the shoe stays out of your way when you’re running or working out. In other words, your body guides the shoe, the shoe doesn’t guide your body. That’s a key distinction, because when you break from neutral shoes like the Pureflow into the stability category, that’s what the shoes are designed to do. Stability shoes are there to adjust and correct your stride, and I’ve even used neutral shoes that were so heavy/over-engineered that they impacted how I moved. The Pureflows melt into the background and just do their job of cushioning my feet a bit and keeping them safe so I can keep on going. Also, it’s a minor point, but I appreciated that the shoelaces stay tied nicely; nothing annoys me more than slippery shoelaces that come untied partway through a run or workout.
Aesthetically, the shoes look great. The upper is black, and the 3D print overlay is black as well, so you can only really see it up close. There’s a large reflective Brooks logo across the toes, so if you’re running facing traffic (which is how you should run), the shoes should be visible. The soles are white, and the black/white contrast makes them stand out; I’ve gotten a few compliments on how nice they look! There’s a P logo for Pureflow on the back of the heel as well as on the insert, just in case you forgot you were wearing Pureflows.
I said above that the shoe reminds me of the Green Silence but better, and that’s where the truly subjective experience comes into play. I have very narrow, long, flat feet, and often have to tie my shoes tighter around the midfoot to keep my heels from sliding around. The Green Silence is a pretty wide shoe, and while they fit me well, I could have probably fit all ten of my toes in one shoe’s toebox. The Pureflows are much narrower, though I still have room to splay my toes around. However, if you trend towards high arches or wide feet, these would probably be a bit too tight for you; at the very least I’d suggest trying them on or buying from a store that has a generous return policy, in case they do prove to be too narrow for your tastes.
Here’s a video take on the Brooks Pureflows 5:
If you’re a fan of lightweight, neutral shoes, and prefer a shoe that runs to the narrow side, be sure to check out the Brooks Pureflow 5. I could go on for a lot longer about how much I love these shoes, but that would cut into my time to run in them! See you on the road!
Source: Manufacturer provided review sample
What I Liked: Solid fit; neutral, lightweight style; flexible but still offers some cushion; aesthetically attractive.
What Needs Improvement: Might run too narrow for some foot types.